Responsible Dog Ownership - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the September 2001 Juniper Berry Magazine

Responsible Dog Ownership

You are responsible for your dog's behavior

It divides communities and sets citizens against each other, it is a burden to some and an eyesore to all; I am referring to dog poop. For a couple of dog owners in Missouri, it even became a full time business. Yucko's Pooper Scooper Service in St. Louis was founded about 10 years ago after someone decided if they have to clean up they might as well be paid.

I, for one, am not so fortunate. I am one of the dogless many that are nonetheless forced to clean up after man's best friend. You can find me almost weekly picking up dog refuse left on the sidewalk outside my home after wayward dog owners flee the scene after their pets do the deed. Whether these pet owners are embarrassed, squeamish or merely inconsiderate, the point remains that dog feces poses health risks to both people and other pets because it contains the e.coli bacteria.

Dog owners became responsible for these animals after acquiring them, just as after having children I became a responsible parent. Imagine the outrage if I threw my son's dirty diapers in a neighbors yard!

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's 1999-2000 survey, there are over 62,400,000 dogs in the U.S. At about half a pound of poop per day per dog, that's more than 30 million pounds of poop that needs to go somewhere (hopefully in the trash). Consequently cities all over the world are passing pooper-scooper laws that require dog owners to clean up after their pets.

In Texas, owners must carry plastic bags (or the like) and in Michigan they have installed pooper-scooper stands that contain free bags for forgetful owners. In Paris they have les super motocrottes, giant vacuums that suck up about 10 lbs. of poop a day, while on their sidewalks they have stencils of defecating dogs with arrows pointing at the gutter. In England, council members went as far as going under cover to pounce on poochy perpetrators.

Most people view dog feces as a cosmetic issue, but unchecked excrement does carry a real health threat. Most importantly, it poses a problem for children who play in the grass area. Diseases that can be transmitted from dog waste to humans are campylobacteriosis, a bacteria infection that causes diarrhea; salmonellosis, which is marked by muscle aches, fever, vomiting and diarrhea; and toxocariasis, otherwise known as roundworms, which may cause fever, cough or abdominal pain, rash, swollen glands and eye problems. While it is decaying, it can eventually enter our water system, releasing deadly ammonia. It can also kill the sparse trees and greenery if not disposed of properly.

I would like to offer some solutions. The Web site- www.Galaxymall.com/animals offers a dog potty for $25, which has snap on and off bags so you never have to touch it! www.doggybag.com offers free clean up sample bags; and www.doggiebags.com has a pocket sized poop scoop. There are also many items on the market at local pet stores that offer the same convenience.

Another issue that I would like to address is dogs off their leads. NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern says dogs can run free in city parks between the hours of 9PM and 9AM. A very bad idea. Now many dog owners have extended those hours to suit their needs. While with my young children, I have come across many dog owners in the park who flatly refuse to leash their animals when asked.

Dogs can make great pets and many people that have dogs regard them as part of their family. But dogs can also bite, and dog bites can cause serious injury and even death. In 1995-1996 in the U.S. at least 25 people died as a result of dog bites, 20 of these were children. A child's small size may cause a dog to act in a dominant way and their lack of judgment on how to behave around a dog adds to their risk of being bit.

Please be a responsible and respectable dog owner and clean up and leash your pet. Thank you so much to everyone in the community who already does so.